Today is the first day of the FMI trade show in Las Vegas, the once great food marketing event that has, frankly, seen better days. One twist, this year, is that FMI has teamed up Core-Apps LLC to produce a mobile app for the show.
The app is designed for the iPhone OS -- meaning the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad -- though the app is not native to the iPad, meaning that it would simply appear as it would on the smaller display of the iPhone or iPod touch. For mobile devices other than the iPhone, the mobile solution is provided by a mobile web-based solution.
Core-Apps LLC is an app development company run by Jay Tokosch. The company started developing iPhone apps in March of 2009 and currently has a 21 apps in the iTunes app store, all for trade shows.
Because of this it is not clear whether Core-Apps signed the deal, or whether Supermarket News initiated the project. In the past, Core-Apps has been the one selling the application deal as they have many trade shows currently under contract. It is possible that the reason Supermarket News's name is on the app is because they are a sponsor for the show, have agreed to promote the show and its app. The SN site also has a promotion page that gives advertising specs for the app, presumably meaning the Penton weekly has the sole right to sell ads associated with FMI.
Update: According to a representative from Core-Apps, Penton's Supermarket News did indeed contract with the company to development this app for FMI.
The app itself is very nice, especially the map page (see below) which takes advantage of the ability to zoom in using the iPhone's multi-touch capability. Normally trying to view a map ofa large show floor would be impossible. But the app not only allows you to zoom in for a more pleasurably experience, but Core-Apps some times uses the GPS function in the phone to create a blue dot on the map of the trade show floor so you can see where you are. Since I am not currently at FMI I don't know whether this feature is being use, or how well it works inside a facility where cell phone availability is sometimes iffy.
The booths themselves are interactive in that there is a link to more information about the show, including booth number, address, and e-mail contact.
This afternoon I received an e-mail from Supermarket News promoting the app -- a little late, I might add, since the show starts today. The app itself, however, has been inside the iTunes store for a few weeks, and was updated a few days ago to fix some bugs and to update the graphics. That same day, Core-Apps updated its app for the Cable Show.
Does it need to be said again? The slowness of the trade press industry to adopt mobile media means that the developers are moving in to take the business. As I mentioned yesterday in my post about the app for Expo 2010 Shanghai China publishers could be using mobile as a way to move away from the costs and difficulties associated with producing a print show daily.
It is good to see Penton Media working with a developer like Core-Apps on trade show apps. By working together -- trade press and app developer -- both have much to gain.